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Southwest Splendor at America’s National Parks

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This post is part of our Escapes Editor’s Picks series, where LivingSocial travel expert Nick Stafford talks about great destinations to travel and tour.

Q: Tell us about this month’s pick, a four-day tour of the American Southwest.

A: Storytelling is one of the best ways to inspire travel. This month’s Editor’s Pick is a story about some of the most iconic destinations in America… the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park. You may have visited the stunning National Parks already – and want to return – or perhaps they’ve just always been on the top of your travel list. Either way, these parks are majestic, and filled with adventure.

We are featuring a four-day exploration of three national parks. Each trip has a maximum of 12 travelers, so it’s an intimate and social trip. In Utah, the vibrant vistas of Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park create an otherworldly landscape so vivid and disarming, they landed on AFAR magazine’s list of Where to Go in 2015. And then there’s the Grand Canyon. The breathtaking depth and vastness of Arizona’s geological wonder attracts five million visitors every year.

Q: What kind of traveler is suited for this tour? Do they need to be skilled hikers?

A: Lovers of nature! The tours can accommodate everyone from children to seniors. You’ll typically walk/hike about three miles a day. Our partners can always make arrangements for more avid hikers who want to go off on their own.

Q: What part of the trip sounds most exciting to you?

A: For me travel is about discovery. Somewhere new. Because I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, I’d be most excited about Bryce Canyon National Park. The website description is so tempting: “There is no place quite like Bryce Canyon. Descriptions fail. Cave without a roof? Forest of stone? Even photographs strain credulity.”

Q: Tell us about the hotels included, Ruby’s Inn and Jacob Lake Inn.

A: The parks are the stars of the show. The hotels are rustic, warm, and quiet. Think of them as perfect jump-off points to the national parks that you will explore during your trip.

Q: When is the best time of year to book?

A: The date options for these tours are already the most optimal times of the year. Summer is obviously hotter, so if you like warm but not too hot, then book for the spring or fall. Note that the Grand Canyon North Rim is only open between May 15-October 15 each year, so trips before or after those dates will be visiting the spectacular Capitol Reef National Park instead.

Q: We are sold! What are the must-pack items?

A: Sturdy shoes, ideally with ankle support, and best if they are broken in. Lots of layers, sunscreen, a canteen, and of course a camera/great smartphone to document your trip, but be careful stepping backwards!

Powered by SeatGeek

There are some exciting events popping up on our site, mobile app and emails that have a new look and feel.

Deals ‘Powered by SeatGeek’ include concerts, sporting events, theater and other live performances.

When clicking on a “Powered by SeatGeek” deal, you’ll find an interactive map of the venue showing available seats at the best prices.

Once you are on the deal page, simply hover over the colored dots to see pricing options in each section, or search and find tickets based on price and quantity on the right hand side.

SeatGeek’s Deal Score technology helps you choose with information like row location, expected sightline from the section and historical ticket prices for the performer and venue.

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LivingSocial highlights the best value tickets at the top of the page and features an interface to view other ticket available. Once you have made your choice, just a click of the mouse will take you to a SeatGeek screen to finalize your purchase.

SeatGeek’s interactive maps can be accessed from our mobile app too. Simply click ‘view more on seatgeek.com’ for the color-coded interactive map. Click on the colored dots to see pricing, and then choose your tickets from the options listed below. You’ll be able to review your selection with all the details and pricing before you check out. From there, just click ‘Buy’ and a SeatGeek screen will pop up to finalize your purchase.

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Your next adventure is only a click away!

Red Carpet Rules of the Road

If your invitation to the Oscars got lost in the mail like ours did, don’t fret! We’ve got everything you need to get red carpet ready for any festive occasion.

First thing’s first: magnify your mane with the Peter Coppola 7-piece hair care system. Including everything from shampoo to thickening structural cream, this kit will add the perfect amount of volume and shine to your look.

Once your locks are primped and primed, create glamorous curls with this $220 curling iron for only $19.99 – that’s 90% off! (Maybe use those savings on post-fete burgers and shakes for you and your entourage?)

Get ready for your close-up with this 5-piece designer make up kit. This Coastal Scents palette includes 20 eye shadow shades to help you achieve any evening look! For an added punch try this photo ready eyeliner + brightener 4 pack — forget the Instagram filter, the camera loves you as is.

For the finale, add a finishing touch with Calvin Klein speakeasy red lipstick. Or pick from any of the other 12 essential make up pieces from Calvin Klein, only $12.99 each.

Pro tip: to plump up your lips add a brighter shade in the middle of both the top and bottom lip for a fuller look. And to make your color last all day, shade in your lips with a similar color lip liner, then top if off with lipstick.

With these tips and savings, you’ll be on the best-dressed list for sure!

Get Naked at the Zoo for Valentine’s Day

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Think outside the chocolate box this Valentine’s Day.

Show your true love with the help of one of the sexiest little beasts residing at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC — the naked mole rat.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, our neighbors at the National Zoo are offering this exclusive deal with LivingSocial. For $10, you can symbolically adopt and gift a naked mole rat to the valentine of your choice. The lucky recipient will be given a certificate of adoption, as well as a heartwarming (and cleverly cheeky) e-card of your choice.

The National Zoo’s Adopt a Species program was established in 1997 to help enrich zoo programs in science, education and animal care. Today, the National Zoo is home to more than 1,800 animals from 300 species, and proceeds from your e-adoption will aid in the conservation and care of animals at the Zoo and around the world.

The naked mole rat has stolen our hearts.

Introducing Escapes Editor’s Picks

In our new monthly Editor’s Picks series, LivingSocial travel expert Nick Stafford brings you the best value-packed vacation experiences.

Q: Hi, Nick. Do us the honor of telling us about yourself.

A: I’m Nick Stafford, armed with 15 years of experience leading travel businesses and a well-stamped passport. I’m responsible for LivingSocial’s travel business ‘Escapes’. Travel has been a personal passion of mine, ever since I traveled to Africa and Asia before college, and I’ve been fortunate to have a professional career in the travel industry. I’ve worked in both leisure and corporate travel in the U.S. and Europe, specifically in the airline, yachting, and hotel industries.

Q: What is LivingSocial Escapes?

A: Escapes provides a marketplace where LivingSocial members can discover, share, and buy great travel experiences. We work with the best travel providers, both near and far. So if you’re looking for that perfect weekend away, a luxury hotel in the Caribbean, or the trip of a lifetime to Europe, Africa or Asia, then LivingSocial is the place for you.

Q: What makes Escapes unique?

A: We focus on inspiring our members to travel, working with only a select and limited list of hotels, airlines, and B&B/inns. Inspiration is key. In fact around 70% of our members who buy tell us that they were not actively looking to travel at that time, until they discovered our travel experiences. Our weekly collection is curated. It’s often exclusive and it’s always tailored for our members based on their location. Our primary focus is those perfect nearcation Escapes.

Q: What is Editor’s Pick?

A: Though all of our partners provide great experiences, some stand out. “Editor’s Pick” allows us to share extraordinary places on a monthly basis. The selection will certainly be more art than science. Travel is all about inspiration so don’t expect cookie cutter experiences.

Q: Tell us about your first pick, Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley. What makes the property stand out?

A: Besides the delicious food, local wines, and excellent service, the resort offers an unheard of rustic elegance. Nestled in the trees, this private luxury retreat inspires total relaxation and fuels the soul.  The outdoor living spaces that each cabin offers is a real breath of fresh air.  It’s an amazing way to connect with nature as you enjoy your private outdoor shower surrounded by the majestic oak trees.

Q: Describe the guest experience travelers can expect.

A: Flawless hospitality. The staff at Calistoga Ranch anticipates each guest’s need before you can even ask. In the heart of wine country, you are close to lots of vineyards, restaurants, art galleries, etc.

Q: Let’s say you had 1 day to spend at the resort. What would you do?

A: Request breakfast and mimosas delivered to my private garden. Go for a hike and soak in the California sun and views of wine country. Go for a dip and enjoy lunch poolside – and of course, a taste of local wine. Soak in a mineral bath, pick a mud treatment, a massage or a facial at the spa. For dinner, order the tasting menu (chef’s choice) with wine pairings at the Lake House restaurant under the stars. That’s how I’d roll – and quite literally. After dinner, I’d roll a little bocce at the Ranch court.

A: Can you give us a clue about next month’s Editor’s Pick?

Calistoga Ranch was the perfect pick for January as the experience focused on rest, rejuvenation, and great food and wine. You can expect February’s selection to fit the season. All I’ll say is that if your happy place involves lifts and a little something called fresh powder, come back for our February reveal!

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